A former capital of Nepal, and technically a stand-alone city, Patan (now called Lalitpur) feels like it has been swallowed by Kathmandu. Along with Bhaktapur and central Kathmandu it has the greatest number of temples and historic sights in the Kathmandu Valley.

Patan Durbar Square is the obvious place to start, one of the main Durbar Squares, along with Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. It didn’t do much for me though, and was my least favourite of the three. It was busy with both locals and tourists, part a building site (after the 2015 earthquake), was the last of them I visited so the novelty value was gone, and I visited too late in the morning so the light was difficult for photography.

There were some wonderful wooden carvings.

Instead I wandered the backstreets of Patan, finding everywhere else much quieter, and more enjoyable. I started with Iba Bahi, a random temple I walked by.

Machhindra Bahal was somewhat unusual, being protected by a sizeable blue fence, and even the icons were caged. It was in the process of being restored / painted bright colours.

Nearby was a white stupa, similar to the much larger ones I’d seen at Boudhanath and Swayambhu.

Swoyambhu Stupa was a wonderfully colourful find down the backstreets.

The Rudra Varna Mahavihar temple had some fantastic metalwork.

Mahabuddha Temple was a well hidden gem, built of thousands of terracotta tiles showing the Buddha.

It was destroyed in an earthquake in 1934 but rebuilt. They had a few spare tiles left over though so built this smaller (but still sizeable!) temple by it.

Surrounded it was a seemingly endless number of shops selling various statues, clearly there must be quite some demand for them!

I love the historic water tanks that are rarely mentioned in Nepal guidebooks but are always a pleasure to visit. Pimbahal Pokhari Krishna Temple was no exception, though the first I’ve seen where pedal boats could be hired to potter around the large pond.

By it was one of Patan’s original four great stupas, and probably the grandest, the Ashok Chaitya.

Hiranya Varna Mahavihar is better known as the Golden Temple. At over six hundred years old it is one of the oldest in the area, and had more incredible metal work.

Kumbeshwor Temple is perhaps the oldest temple in Patan, and one of only two five story temples in Nepal, the other being the better known Nyatapola Temple in Bhaktapur. It was originally built though as a two story structure in the 14th century, with three more stories added in the 17th century. There was a busy Hindu festival / event underway so I gave it some space.

To finish with United Nations Park, on the southern banks of the Bagmati River marking the divide between Patan and Kathmandu. The dodgy staircase to nowhere was a particularly random feature…

Author: jontycrane

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